WALNUT -- Bakersfield College got the Mount San Antonio College monkey off its back.
The Renegades, who had been eliminated from the Southern California community college football playoffs three times in the last five seasons by Mount SAC, turned the tables on the Mounties on Saturday night.
BC's 30-21 win at Mount SAC ended the Mounties' five-year run of Southern California championships and ended the season of the final unbeaten JC team in California.
The Renegades (10-2) advance into the state championship game Dec. 8 at Memorial Stadium against City College of San Francisco, which beat American River College of Sacramento 41-36 Saturday afternoon for the Northern California title. BC's win also avenged a 34-14 loss to Mount SAC in the same stadium Sept. 8.
"Revenge feels so good," said freshman safety Chris Hannible. "It's better than winning the regular (season) game."
The Renegades turned in another brilliant defensive performance. They shut out the Mounties (11-1) in the second half while coming from behind. BC trailed 21-17 at halftime.
"For being such underdogs, I've never been around a group of guys who really believed we could win," said BC quarterback Brian Burrell, who was 18 of 33 for 212 yards and three passing touchdowns, and he added a 1-yard TD run to earn the Offensive Player of the Game award.
“I don’t think there was one person on this team who didn’t think we could win,” Burrell said. “You’ve got to believe.”
The Renegades overcame some early-game mistakes.
Freshman wide receiver-punt returner Marquise Johnson fumbled a punt that Mount SAC recovered on the BC 34. The Mounties scored four plays later on an 8-yard run by Jamal Overton.
Late in the first quarter, freshman running back Curtis McGregor lost a fumble that the Mounties recovered on the BC 25. But that miscue didn’t cost BC any points. The Mounties’ Joseph Cejudo missed a 37-yard field goal attempt.
And after BC took a 10-7 lead on a 27-yard Tyler Schleicher field goal and Burrell’s 1-yard TD run, Mount SAC’s Kaelin Clay returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown to give the Mounties a 14-10 lead.
“We start the game three downs and out and we fumble a punt,” BC coach Jeff Chudy said. “Then they have the kickoff return on not the best of kicks.
“But our guys are resilient. I can’t say enough about how proud of these guys I am.”
Johnson recovered nicely after his fumble. He caught touchdown passes of 45 and 18 yards from Burrell and would have had a 31-yard TD if he wouldn’t have slipped at the 1-yard line on the first-quarter drive that ended with Burrell’s TD.
Johnson was named the game’s MVP after catching six passes for 120 yards.
“I felt real bad, like I let my team down,” Johnson said of the fumble. “I knew I needed to have a big game. When that happened, it brought me down. My teammates brought me back.”
Overton, who hurt BC in the first meeting, had 155 net rushing yards on 22 carries.
Mount SAC quarterback Nick Montana, the son of former 49ers great Joe Montana (who was at the game), was 10 of 19 for 115 yards and one touchdown with an interception. Montana completed a game-winning 44-yard touchdown pass one week earlier that propelled the Mounties to a come-from-behind win.
The Renegades sacked Montana four times and he was pressured on numerous other occasions.
“Once they (BC’s defense) got a little blood in the water, they picked up the pressure,” Chudy said. “We had a three-man rush with a backer spying on him. He was having a hard time looking downfield. We kept him out of his comfort zone.”
BC effectively ran the ball in the second half, with Jalen Sykes (21 carries, 105 yards) and McGregor (16 carries, 94 yards) keeping drives alive and keeping the defense honest so it couldn’t focus totally on Burrell.
BC’s inability to run the ball in the Sept. 8 game was a key factor in the Mounties’ easy win that night.
“We felt like we had a good game plan,” BC offensive coordinator Carl Dean said. “The biggest thing: We’re better now. We know what we’re doing. The kids have bought into what we’re doing. We’re better, playing faster.
“When we take care of the ball, we’re pretty good. We felt like we could wear them out and we did that in the second half.”
“Confidence plus hard work all week and execution today got the job done,” Burrell said. “Our defense is amazing. It has held us together. And when our offense starts clicking, we’re a dangerous team.”
The BC-San Francisco game Dec. 8 is a rematch of the 2000 state finals, which CCSF won 31-13.